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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Field Guide To Ryan Braun Conspiracy Theories

A fun little piece I found at Sportsthodoxy the other day. Excerpt:
Conspiracy theories are dumb. They are predicated on the simultaneous notion that A)there are vast, powerful groups of people exerting their reach invisibly to alter the course of world events on a scale vast and unimaginable and B)they're doing so in such a way that every dude named Shecky with dialup access can find the clues they're leaving behind. I mean, sure, the idea that someone out there is planning all this has to be comforting on some level - more comforting than the notion that there's no one in charge and thus, no one to magically save the day should events warrant it - but as a dedicated reader of conspiracy theory material for writing-related purposes, I can safely say that one conspiracy theory is generally dumber than the next. Doctor Rich recommends taking two Michael Shermer books, chasing them with Jon Ronson's excellent treatise Them, and taking a nap.

That being said, the Braun verdict has produced any number of hare-brained analyses, ranging from the insulting to the deeply insulting. Here's a quick rundown.

Braun Got Off Because Bud Selig Used To Own The Brewers

The key term in all this, of course, is "used to". As in, "he sold the team". As in "Some other dude named Mark Attanasio owns it now." Sure, the conspiracy theorists say, but it was his team, and it's in his hometown, and they've got a statue of him out front of their park! Surely that's enough reason for Bud to ham-fistedly rig the appeals process!

Well, you know what they say: just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean they aren't after you!

Seriously, the only thing that smells to me just a little bit is the sloppiness of the handling of the sample. When a man's reputation and career are on the line, chain of custody is important (and I for the record am solidly in support of how the arbitration turned out for this reason). I'm interested to find out what the specified procedure is, and how often it is followed. Obviously, there is no reliable auditing of the procedure.

I don't think there was any conspiracy involved in Braun's case specifically, but I can't help but wonder if a little slop was built into the process just in case all parties involved wanted an out just in case a situation came up that could hurt (i.e., embarrass) MLB at a bad time--say, a front-line star caught just as the postseason was heating up.

Not that I'm of a conspiratorial bent, mind you; it's just that it's hard for me to believe that the MLB and the MLBPA, with all their sabre-toothed lawyers, were that carelessly unprofessional when devising these procedures.

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